Safeguarding what’s important and cutting out the rest

Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.

— Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Safeguard what’s important; the time that makes everything else easier and richer and life more rewarding.

To me, that’s early mornings spent writing with good coffee. Time in the mountains and pushing myself physically for longer and further than I feel prepared for. Reading books, memorising poems, and having time to think.

My golden hours are from six (or five, if possible) to eight in the morning. These are the hours that make my life feel most precious and rewarding, but protecting them has its sacrifices.

If I’m awake at six, I need to be asleep at ten the night before – no question about it. That means I rarely go out with people I work with; I go home and get ready for bed ridiculously early.

For those who define boring as rarely going out and never getting hungover, I am absolutely boring.

It’s all give and take. To try and prioritise what’s important, I say a polite no (…although sometimes less polite) to what isn’t as important to me.

I really don’t enjoy most social events that involve alcohol. I sit there, feel awkward for a while, say something awkward, and then try to leave. I love spending an evening with good food and friends, but I accepted a long, long time ago that enjoying a few beers is not in my list of strengths. Not by a mile.

If an event means something to someone I love, then of course I’ll be there. I’ll make time to speak to my boyfriend instead of sleeping early. And I love meeting new and fascinating people.

But generally, if my important relationships aren’t concerned, I’d rather have time to work on my projects, get outside, or have time to just think or be. By doing this over the last few years, I’ve kept my friendship circle very small – almost hilariously small – but I’ve done a lot that I’m very proud of.

I’ve written a few things that have received some incredibly heartfelt responses. I’ve become my own best interpreter and advocate. I’ve explored some beautiful places and read books that have forever changed the way I see the world. And I think I’ve done a good job at nurturing my closest relationships. That’s the best I could have hoped for.

What’s really important to you? What investment of your time has the greatest impact on yourself and others? How can you edit your life and your routine to live the life you most want to lead?

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